Performance artist Alice Brookes has developed a response to the Covid Lockdown
Performance artist Alice Brookes
During the first three weeks of covid-19 lockdown (23rd March – 11th April) women across the U.K. and around the world were being murdered and beaten at an unprecedented rate. In England and Wales alone 14 women and 2 children were murdered*. These figures do not include transwomen.
Three weeks in lockdown is a project documenting murdered women over a 3 week period. As the stories of the murdered women and children faded in the media I felt the need to mark the locations across the country, where the murders took place. In each location I used either chalk or charcoal since they would wash away over time, mirroring how the murdered women will fade from our memories and be quickly forgotten.
Domestic abuse and the murdering of women happens in big cities, small towns, country villages and holiday destinations by the sea. Violence against women is all around us, all the time. Regardless of the heightened number of murders during the first three weeks, it is vital to understand that lockdown did not cause men to be violent. In reality, it just provided a greater opportunity for already abusive men to act violently. ‘Stress’ caused by the virus is not a justification for murder, as often suggested by the media to shelter perpetrators from the responsibility of their actions. Those women were murdered due to male violence against women. It is important we remember that abusers don’t murder because they lose control of themselves but often when they lose control of their power. The United Nations Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for Gender Equality stated on 6 April 2020 that “domestic violence was already one of the greatest human rights violations”.
Since the first national lockdown was lifted I have travelled nearly 2000 miles across England and Wales*, reminding people of the prevalence of domestic violence everywhere. However, with my project now completed and November already upon us, we are left facing yet another national lockdown. What will this mean for the women trapped with abusive men? Will the media continue to divert the blame onto the victim, or will they use lockdown to justify the perpetrator’s actions, freeing them from accountability. Unless we stop excusing the perpetrators and start talking openly about violence done to the bodies of women and children, we cannot begin to change it.
My piece, Three weeks in Lockdown 2020 was inspired by Suzanne Lacy’s project Three Weeks in May 1977
*The information about the murdered women came from Counting Dead Women by Karen Ingala Smith.
*I was unable to travel to Belfast to mark the murder of 82 yr old Betty Dobbin.